Jan 26, 2022 - Politics

DeSantis fumes over FDA interference

Illustration of a shield with a monoclonal antibody image in the center
Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Gov. Ron DeSantis is blasting the Biden administration after the FDA revoked the use of two different monoclonal antibody treatments, forcing Florida to shutter treatment clinics across the state.

Driving the news: The FDA halted monoclonal antibody cocktails made by Regeneron and Eli Lilly on Monday after finding they’re not effective against the Omicron variant.

  • The FDA pointed to CDC statistics showing that Omicron accounted for 99% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as of Jan. 15.
  • The agency noted that "data show these treatments are highly unlikely to be active" against Omicron, so monoclonal antibody treatments could therefore risk unnecessary side effects.

The other side: DeSantis and Florida health officials are arguing the treatments should be distributed even if they're significantly less effective against Omicron than they were against Delta.

The latest: All Florida monoclonal antibody sites were closed until further notice following the FDA's decision, per a statement from the state's Health Department.

The big picture: Before Omicron's arrival, Eli Lilly's and Regeneron's treatments were found to be effective in preventing COVID hospitalizations.

  • The federal government paused distribution of these drugs in December due to effectiveness concerns but restarted distribution after complaints from some Republican governors, including DeSantis.

What they're saying: "Without a shred of clinical data to support this action, Biden has forced trained medical professionals to choose between treating their patients or breaking the law," DeSantis said in a statement.

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